Pathfinder - Magus Arcana Breakdown
I will use content from the core rules, but will intentionally omit any content not published on the official Pathfinder SRD due to the unmanageable volume of non-SRD content, and the wildly varying quality of non-SRD content. If you would like me to write handbooks for specific content not published on the official SRD, please email me and I will consider it on a case-by-case basis. I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.
- Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- Green: Good options.
- Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
Temporary Note: Pathfinder Unchained and Occult Adventures were both recently added to the SRD. I'm excited to explore them, and I am actively working on adding their contents to my collection of handbooks. I appreciate your patience while I make these changes.
Accurate Strike (Ex): Costly, but crazy effective. When you absolutely, positively have to drop somebody, this is how you do it.
Arcane Accuracy (Su): Less costly and less effective than Accurate Strike, but still pretty good.
Arcane Cloak (Su): Bluffing and hiding isn't really part of the Magus' skill set.
Arcane Deed (Ex): Many options won't work for a Magus because you're not treated as having a point of Panache, and only a couple of the remaining options are remotely worthwhile. You are required also to take Flamboyant Arcana, which is terrible, so I wouldn't bother unless you plan to use Deadly Stab or Stunning Stab frequently.
- Derring-Do (Ex): Free from Flamboyant Arcana.
- Dodging Panache (Ex): Depends on Charisma, which is a dump stat for the Magus.
- Opportune Parry and Riposte (Ex): Free from Flamboyant Arcana.
- Kip-Up (Ex): Arcane Deed specifies that your effective Swashbuckler level is 0, so this will not function.
- Menacing Swordplay (Ex): Arcane Deed specifies that your effective Swashbuckler level is 0, so this will not function.
- Precise Strike (Ex): Arcane Deed specifies that your effective Swashbuckler level is 0, so this will not function.
- Swashbuckler Initiative (Ex): Arcane Deed specifies that your effective Swashbuckler level is 0, so this will not function.
- Swashbuckler's Grace (Ex): Arcane Deed specifies that your effective Swashbuckler level is 0, so this will not function.
- Superior Feint (Ex): Arcane Deed specifies that your effective Swashbuckler level is 0, so this will not function.
- Targeted Strike (Ex): If you can make a Full Round Action, you should be using Spellstrike.
- Bleeding Wound (Ex): Just hit things with a spell. It will work much faster.
- Evasive (Ex): Arcane Deed specifies that you don't count as having points in your Panache pool, so this won't function..
- Subtle Blade (Ex): Arcane Deed specifies that your effective Swashbuckler level is 0, so this will not function.
- Dizzying Defense (Ex): The Magus has plenty of other options to boost their AC.
- Perfect Thrust (Ex): Arcane Deed specifies that your effective Swashbuckler level is 0, so this will not function.
- Swashbuckler's Edge (Ex): Arcane Deed specifies that your effective Swashbuckler level is 0, so this will not function.
- Cheat Death (Ex): Arcane Deed specifies that your effective Swashbuckler level is 0, so this will not function.
- Deadly Stab (Ex): Save or die, and its dependent on your ridiculous Dexterity modifier.
- Stunning Stab (Ex): Stunning a creature is devastating, and you don't need to crit to do it.
Arcane Edge (Su): Keep in mind that bleed damage is not ongoing bleed damage. You can get a much better return for your arcane pool points from other arcanas.
Arcane Redoubt (Su): Even if this were an immediate action, it would still be highly situational.
Arcane Redoubt, Greater (Su): Very costly, very hard to time, and very expensive.
Bane Blade (Su): Bane weapons are normally hard to justify because it is so difficult to predict what you will be fighting. The Magus doesn't have that problem, and 2d6 bonus damage against whatever you're righting is fantastic.
Broad Study (Ex): This makes multiclassing into Wizard or Witch somewhat viable, but because you need to be level 6 to take this arcana, your spellcasting abilities in the second class will be miles behind.
Close Range (Ex): This opens up a lot of options for Spellstrike, including Disintegrate. Don't bother taking this until fairly high levels when the damage from favorites like Shocking Grasp begins to lose its luster and ray spells become more prevalent.
Concentrate (Ex): Most of your concentration checks will be to cast defensively, so your best bet is to take Combat Casting instead.
Critical Strike (Su): With a keen scimitar, you have a reasonably chance of scoring critical hits, and being able to cast an extra spell as a swift action means a lot of extra damage.
Devoted Blade (Su): Most of your enemies will be susceptible to either Holy or Unholy, and these abilities allow you to bypass DR and do a ton of extra damage. If you're one of the corner alignments (Lawful Good, Chaotic Good, etc.) you could add two effects and drop 4d6 extra damage on creatures of the opposite alignment.
Dispelling Strike (Su): Potentially very powerful, but it costs too much to use.
Disruptive (Ex): Mages are scary, and this is one of few ways for non-fighters to get Disruptive.
Empowered Magic (Su): Damage spells are your bread and butter, so 50% more damage is nice. You only get to use this once per day, which can be a very important choice. Use this early in a fight to really mess up someone scary.
Enduring Blade (Su): The 1 minute duration on your blade enhancements really hurts, especially for long fights. If you have long fights (common as you grow in level) or like to have several fights back to back, this can save you a huge number of arcane pool points.
Familiar (Ex): Familiars are fantastic, and they can deliver touch attack spells for you and scout for you.
Flamboyant Arcana (Ex): A Magus should never need Derring-Do, and with only 2/3 BAB it will be difficult to rely on Opportune Parry and Riposte.
Ghost Blade (Su): Ghost touch and Brilliant Energy are both very situational, and brilliant energy is hugely expensive to use.
Hasted Assault (Su): Haste is one of the best buffs for combat characters, and the Magus is no exception. The duration will only be a few rounds, but the extra attacks should net you quite a bit of extra damage.
Lingering Pain (Su): Very situational, but very good. The DC to concentrate will be absurdly high if you hit with even a mediocre damage spell, which effectively turns off the enemy caster for a turn.
Maneuver Mastery (Ex): The Magus really isn't the type of character to be doing a lot of combat maneuvers, but Trip wouldn't be the worst choice anyone has ever made.
Maximized Magic (Su): Take the biggest spell you can cast, combine it with Empower Magic, really ruin someone's day. Imagine a Maximized, Empowered disintegrate. It's a high level example, but it's a beautiful concept.
Pool Strike (Su): If you're low on spells but still have some arcane pool points to burn, this can be a tempting option. The damage won't be fantastic, but it's a cheap way to get a little extra damage. Of course, you can use Spell Recall to recall Shocking Grasp for the same cost, and Shocking Grasp with no modifications does the same damage and grants you an extra attack thans to Spell Combat.
Pool Strike, Arcing (Su): The range isn't fantastic, but this is flashy and exciting. By this level the damage will be 4d6, which isn't going to win any fights, but you could potentially do this every turn.
Pool Strike, Clinging (Su): The damage from Pool Strike already isn't great, and an extra arcane pool point is too pricy for so little damage.
Pool Strike, Thunderous (Su): Most enemies won't care about being deafened, and most things won't take any additional effect from sonic damage. If you want to use this on casters, there are much better ways to surpress casters.
Prescient Attack (Su): You are not sneak attacking, and very few enemies rely on dexterity for AC.
Prescient Defense (Su): This is good against solo enemies, but it's too expensive to maintain. Spell Shield is considerably better.
Quickened Magic (Su): One extra chance to murder something as a swift action.
Reflection (Su): Expensive, but definitely worth it. At this level there are a lot of very scary spells to worry about, and this provides a very effective defense mechanism.
Rod Mastery (Su): There aren't a lot of rods that contain spells.
Rod Wielder (Su): There aren't a lot of rods that contain spells.
Silent Magic (Su): Very situational. On a wizard this might be alright, but if you'r every silenced you can just start hitting people with you magically enhanced weapon.
Spell Blending (Ex): You already have the vast majority of the spells you will want to cast, but this opens up a lot of options for you.
Spell Shield (Su): Helpful, but expensive to maintain. If you need a shield bonus, cast Shield or pick up a Mithral Buckler.
Spellbreaker (Ex): Combined with Disruptive, this makes you a major problem for enemy spellcasters. In campaigns with a lot of enemy spellcasters, this is a must.
Still Magic (Su): This can be helpful for escaping grapples or escaping ropes, but you spend most of your time in combat waving your hands around, which makes this fairly situational.
Wand Mastery (Su): Most of your important spells won't require a save, which makes this less useful.
Wand Wielder (Su): A wand of shocking grasp won't deal a ton of damage by itself, but it grants you an extra attack per turn using Spell Combat, which is certainly worth the 15 gp after low levels.